In the waiting room

On Friday, it finally became clear that I wasn’t going to shake the chest cold I’ve had since November, so I made an appointment with a nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. My appointment was this morning.

It’s always a long wait when you go to a doctor’s office. The TV yammered softly away on one corner of the big waiting room; voices coming from the TV are compressed to be more intelligible, so it was hard to overhear other people’s conversations. A woman got up and stood facing into a corner of the waiting room, talking softly on her cell phone: “I can’t heeear you,” she said in a gentle voice; of course she couldn’t leave the room, because you have to be there when they call your name. She lowered her voice even more, switched to Portuguese, and all I could hear were sibilants: “zh — ss — zzh.”

An older man and a middle-aged woman sat next to me. He had an oxygen bottle beside him. The woman said, “There’s a lot of people here today who were here yesterday.” The man said: “What?” She repeated herself. “Busy,” he said.

A medical assistant poked her head out of one of the doors leading into the offices. “John So-and-so,” she said. Behind me, I heard a man say, “I can’t be-lieve it! You’re calling me? I can’t be-lieve it.” — in a deep booming sarcastic voice with working class New England accent.

The older man and the woman next to me talk in low voices, keeping up a continuous, and often hilarious, commentary on people in the waiting room, and on mutual acquaintances. “—- said he’s cut back on eating meat,” said the woman. “Huh,” snorted the man, “when he came over to my place, he ate plenty of meat.” “He’s putting on weight,” she said. “Look at her,” he said, “what, do you have to be 200 pounds to get a job here?” “What do you weigh,” she said innocently, “240?” “Nah, 220,” he said, sounding disgusted with himself, “I used to be 240 but being sick I’ve been losing weight like anything.” He started describing the spaghetti he was going to make for a friend of his, with shrimp and a sauce with lemon and white wine. “Why’re you going to make that for him,” she said, “he won’t appreciate it.” “You’re right, I’ll make spaghetti and meatballs,” he said, “two or three meatballs.” “Two meatballs,” she asked incredulously, “that’s all?” “Yeah, I’ll eat one, and I’ll give him one,” said the man. They both laughed quietly.

Another medical assistant poked her head out of one of the doors. “George So-and-so,” she said. “About time,” said a cigarette-ravaged voice from across the room, “fer chrise sakes.” A woman sitting right behind me said softly to her friend, “Boy, the place mobbed today.”

The older man said to the woman next to me, “What’d he say?” She replied, “About time for Christ sake.” They both laughed. “Nobody likes to wait,” he said. The woman opened her cell phone to check the time. “10:30. That’s pretty bad,” she said. “What’s pretty bad?” he said. “We’ve been waiting an hour for a 9:30 appointment. He said something about spending his life in a doctor’s waiting room.

Then they called my name, so I got up and walked into the doctor’s office. I got examined, they took chest X-rays, it’s official: I have bronchitis.

7 thoughts on “In the waiting room

  1. Bogie

    Lucky you. Same symptoms (and a shorter wait), but when they called my name and I got up and walked into the doctor’s office, I got examined, they took chest X-rays, then ordered a CAT scan. It’s official: I have a tumor in my right lung the size of a tennis ball. Biopsy results to follow.

    “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

    “Things are never so bad they can’t be worse.”

  2. h sofia

    Chest cold since November? Geez. I would be such a whiny brat by now. Hope you get better soon.

    Bogie: Egads! Sorry to hear that; good luck with the biopsy results!

  3. Dan

    Bogie @ 1 — That was actually one of my fears in my case… Prayers and good thoughts to you! I’m sure the rest of my readers will add in their good thoughts and prayers as well. (Actually, at least one reader does long distance Reiki healing….)

    Sisters @ 2 & 3 — Yeah, I was stupid to wait so long. I mean really stupid. So all you out there, don’t be stupid like me, and take care of yourselves, all right?

    h sofia @ 5 — Umm, according to Carol, I have been a little whiny. But I’ve been so tired, I don’t have the energy to be a brat.

  4. Bogie

    Thanks for all your good thoughts and prayers. I sincerely believe that I am destined to struggle with this disease, survive it, and emerge a much better human being as a result. I just can’t believe that God is through tormenting me yet, after she’s already invested so much in my soul; and that I’m ordained to die of something far more ignoble (and less “romantic”) than cancer. But I’m also prepared to knock this cancer down now only to have it return in 5 years to kill me, and even to start measuring my life span in months instead of years. The good news is, that even just a few decades ago, this last possibility would have been the ONLY possibility….

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